Iso Rivolta Grifo 90: the unknown story of the last Iso made


scale Model of the Iso Rivolta Grifo 90, introduced in 1991.

Iso Rivolta is another one of those great little Italian brands who left a small footprint in the world of motorsport. Closed in 1974, he went to the story to make some interesting models (and sports) as well as racing models, and although it never came to achieve the status that they deserved for their products, in the last decades, has gained recognition of specialists and collectors.

initially Founded in 1939 as a company dedicated to the manufacture of refrigerators after the Second World War he moved to Bresso, a town of Milan, where it acquired its final name, Iso Autoveicoli S. p., as a manufacturer of vehicles. Among its models, the most legendary does not correspond with a sporty, but utilitarian, the iconic Isetta, which used the engine of a bike that also manufactured the company, the Iso Moto 200, and that was built under license by several companies, including BMW.

from the sixties Iso are distinguished by manufacture and sporting models intended for circuit, but in 1974 it fell into bankruptcy and closed the company after having made fewer than 2,000 sports. In the following years there were several attempts to resurrect the brand, which with the time was gaining weight between the collectors, and at the end of the eighties saw the last of the initiatives, when Piero Rivolta, son of the founder and director of the brand since 1966, they partnered with a manufacturer of buses and obtained the necessary funding to launch a new sports model.


Iso Grifo Series I coupe.

From among the classical models of Iso the more representative was the Faucet, a Gran Turismo produced between 1965 and 1974 in two series that had large mechanical eight-cylinder of source General Motors, and up to 7.4 litres, and that was going to be a rival of the GTs are more representative of Ferrari and Maserati of the era. At the end of the eighties, Rivolta was to revive precisely this model with the same recipe, rack and Italian style combined with a huge and powerful V8 engine american. To do this count with the collaboration of big names in the industry, Marcello Gandini to design, Dallara for the chassis and Callaway for the V8 engine of origin Corvette.

The result was a spectacular concept of a strident yellow colour (colour of vogue at that time among the sport) presented internationally in 1991. The two-seater boasted a powerful V8 engine central-front, a slim silhouette with headlights hidden behind a cover as well (they were not headlights, retractable) and a caring and comfortable cabin. Although the project was already very advanced, the vehicle presented to the media was really only a scale model and to the dessert, the last survivor known of the project, well, shortly after, a new crisis led to the disappearance of the funding, and therefore, also the entire project.

it is Not known exactly as a, but after the completion of the project, the full-scale model ended up disappearing and not revived until decades later and by chance, that is when you really start this story.


The prototype is easily recognizable by their rims silver.

In the last chapter of the series “the Iso Rivolta Chronicles”, produced by Italian Garage, we found the story of the spectacular Iso Grifo 90, the actual model created from the scale model presented at the beginning of the nineties and that never materialized into a production model.

as features of the characters in the video, the employer Federico Bonomelli discovered by chance that the scale model at the end of the last decade, when, in response to a call from the own Piero Rivolta helped to collect a series of materials that were in the possession of the coachbuilder Zagato. Among these belongings Rivolta found the prototype, made on a wooden base. After becoming hooked on their design, it was decided in collaboration with a few to bring to production the vehicle, in a short limited series.

At that time found out also the latest version is not presented in the model, modified by Zagato but that also came to see the light. However, Bonomelli decided to reproduce the original design introduced in 1991, much more angular, but more balanced than the proposal of Zagato, that blurred most of the lines of the sport, although he respected its volumes main.


Version of Zagato of the Iso Grifo 90.

After buying a Rivolta the scale model, Bonomelli and his crew began the project by contacting the main protagonists of the original model, as Marcello Gandini, or the own Piero Rivolta, who were delighted of the idea. In view of simplifying the work, decided to use the base of a vehicle already existing, in place of to fund the expensive development and approval of a rack from scratch with all your items, so we decided on a Chevrolet Corvette C5 Z06, that not only had with a mechanics similar to that originally planned, but respected to a large extent the original recipe of the model, Italian design with mechanical american.

The exemplary donor was purchased in the united States by eBay in 2007, and he began the work that culminated in 2010 with the presentation at the event Villa d’este in the final model, as fully functional.

The result is practically a carbon copy of the model to the original scale presented almost 20 years ago, with the exception of some slight detail difference in the exterior, such as the termination of the exhaust outlets or the new rims and tires, now 5-spoke black on a ring silver in place of the wheels silver original. In the interior we find a modification of the dash from the Corvette C5, which in some areas is easily recognizable, as in the vents.


The only copy of the Iso Rivolta Grifo 90.

Finally there was only one unit, since, like his predecessor, was born right in the middle of a recession, so that those responsible for the initiative had to content themselves with the mere physicality of the model, which in its official documentation account as a manufacturer GM-Mako Shark, due to its origin of General Motors and the name of the Italian company that made the frame, while the full name of the model is Iso Rivolta Grifo 90.

This unique model still remains in the possession of the family Bonomelli and has a V8 LS6 raised to 496 HP (490 hp) that allows you to reach 100 km/h from zero in just 3.6 seconds with a top speed around 300 km/h, and that retains all the technical elements important from the Corvette donor, such as ABS or traction control.